Following Jesus • 23 / Double Opposition

Read This: Matthew 2:19-23

Opposition to Jesus took two forms — threats and ridicule. As a child, the threat of being killed by Herod sent Him fleeing to Egypt in the middle of the night.

Later, when it was safe to return home, Joseph didn’t bring the family back to Bethlehem. That would have put them too close to Jerusalem where Herod’s cruel and bloody son, Archelaus, sat on the throne. Instead, he brought them back to his own home town. Nazareth.

Nazareth had a terrible reputation. People from Nazareth were considered rough, rude, violent, and crude. The term Nazarene was a derogatory epithet. That’s why Nathanael said of Jesus, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth” (John 1:46)? When people referred to Jesus as the Nazarene, it was meant as a slur. In the same way, when Tertullus called the apostle Paul “a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes,” it was an insult (Acts 24:5).

Many of the Old Testament prophecies depict Jesus as scorned, despised, and hated (e.g., Isaiah 53:3; Psalm 22:6). Part of that opposition came with the territory — He grew up in Nazareth. To be “from Nazareth” was to live with constant ridicule.

Many of us know what that feels like. We can sympathize with Him. And, more importantly, He can sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15-16).

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